It's no secret that the internet is filled - absolutely packed! - with trolls. The BBC even did a programme on trolling and the impact it can have. On that note, the impact can be horrific, with the potential for an already fragile person to be pushed to the point of suicide.
I have been that fragile person who attempted to kill herself over an abusive text message. Thankfully since then I've become more resilient, which is important in a world of keyboard warriors.
There are a handful of times when I've been incredibly thankful for my newfound resilience, one of which was very recent. Over the weekend, I managed to get entangled in a vicious political debate. Well, it wasn't so much a debate...as so often happens when discussing politics, it was very much a case of one person saying "this is how I feel and if you disagree I'll spend the night hurling vile insults at you".
So I spent the night rolling my eyes and providing evidence to support my point of view whilst the other person sat and called me "fat" and "sloppy lard a**e". Clearly, a charming person who is so incredibly passionate about what they believe in that they have a very strong argument as to why their view is the right view and everybody else is simply delusional...right?
They then went on to hunt through the public information available on my profile in a rather silly attempt to ascertain where I was from, simply so they could start hurling insults based on my nationality.
Here's the thing...as this was happening, I didn't falter. I continued responding to the questions they were throwing at me in an attempt to make me trip in my arguments. I barely batted an eyelid as the insults continued to roll my way. All the while I was thinking "this person isn't exhibiting any signs of being on the brink of hurting themselves, their language indicates they're planning for the future, etc.".
Then I thought "what if it was 13 year old me on the receiving end of these insults?". That's when I realised that maybe, instead of attempting to educate them on politics, maybe I ought to recommend they educate themselves on mental illness. I may be resilient enough to cope with these comments, but what about the next person? Their next victim could be someone who is on the brink of hurting themselves, and such horrible comments could be what pushes them over the edge, or sparks an eating disorder, etc.
Think before you type, and remember, education is key.